Gulf War III


Here we go again. A few advisors. No boots on the grounds. Then a few boots on the ground.

It’s not going to be a quick fix, they are telling us. We need to train an Iraqi army, which has the boots on the ground. Yes, we did that before. But this time we need to really train them.

Before we were doing what— for 11 years? Had not we already built an awesome 270,000-man strong Iraqi war machine trained by us at the cost of $17 billion?

We now know we were actually financing the opposition who picked up all the fancy shmancy equipment our trained Iraqis were throwing away because it weighed them down in their haste to escape. We were paying for the biggest, what we used to call in the Korean War, bug out, in modern history.

Any day our president will be telling us it’s a big big job, requiring the presence of our boys on the ground, the same boys who have already suffered cruel and unusual punishment with four and five deployments in the war that already has been going on for 1,400 years.

Thirteen years after 2001, when we first decided to stick our noses into what is essentially a difference of opinion between Sunni and Shias, muddled by the need to save our oil companies’ rear ends, the two Gulf Wars cost us $3 trillion, 7,000 dead American soldiers and 500,000 dead Gulf inhabitants, according to one score keeper I trust.

And what we’ve got is a mulligan?

Secretary Hagel, who has been defining the mission for us, said the campaign this time would include the training and equipping of 5,000 Syrian fighters and the involvement of more than 40 coalition nations, including 30 that pledged military support.

Already we are hearing from the supposedly comatose Congress that only awakes from the dead to criticize President Obama. Field Marshall McCain of Arizona doubted that the job could be done by “5,000 Syrian fighters, who could not be trained for months, would be able to fight off more 30,000 Islamic State combatants.”

Any day now a new group of post-neocons –members of the Paul Wolfowitz Brigade, named in honor of the Deputy Secretary of Defense in Gulf War II who thought he was playing a game of “Islamic Trivial Pursuits”— will be assuring us whatever we will be doing out there in the Caliphate is a cake walk and that the folks in Iraq, Syria and wherever else this madness will lead us will greet our boys with boots on the ground or in the air as liberators.

Buy that, and I have a magic carpet to sell you.

This is going to be a tough war to sell us, effendi.

It doesn’t help that already we are in the fog of non–war. John Kerry said Americans should not think of it as a war, or we’re liable to slip into “war fever.” It reminds me of the Nixon Error, when we weren’t invading Cambodia or Laos. It was only an incursion. And when our South Vietnamese troops’ retreat reached its peak, TRB in The New Republic used the phrase “Laos Excursion.”

They are even afraid to tell us exactly what we will be fighting in this non-war, using ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), when the enemy’s nomenclature is ISIL. That means Islamic State In Levant.

Do you know what “the Levant” actually is, effendi? The Levant – the area that the Guys with the Black Flag see as the boundaries of their Caliphate— consists of the island of Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and parts of southern Turkey.

Well, put that in your hookah and smoke it, fellow peaceniks.

Why, a concerned citizen might be asking as the non-war build up is gaining momentum, aren’t the Arab nations mounting their camels and riding off to slaughter these insane Sunni super extremists who are dedicated to killing Shiites, Christians, Yezidis, secularists, women who don’t wear the abaya and everybody else they consider an infidel? Why are they forcing our increasingly all-thumbs president to become Obama of Arabia, a role he clearly has no stomach for? Why is the coalition of the unwilling not sending troops into battle, offering to use the air equipment we sold them. True it helps our military industrial complex, which is a win- win, even though it’s against the biblical concept of studying war no more.

Some how I feel as we are being dragged into Gulf War III that our Middle East policy more and more seems to be based on Sigmund Romberg’s “Desert Song,” the operetta inspired by the 1925 rebellion of the Riffs, the Moroccan version of ISIS or ISIL aimed primarily against French colonial rule, spiced with some “Beau Geste” Lite and “The Son of the Sheik.”

Just in case you have forgotten, effendi, this may be the song they are singing in the shower at Defense, State and the White House, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein Jr., music by Romberg.

Cue some Nelson Eddy, maestro:

Give me some men who are stout-hearted men
Who will fight for the right they adore.
Start me with ten who are stout-hearted men
And I’ll soon give you ten thousand more.
Oh, shoulder to shoulder and bolder and bolder
They grow as they go to the fore.
Then there’s nothing in this world can halt or mar a plan,
When stout-hearted men can stick together man to man.


Marvin Kitman
Sept. 17, 2014

Marvin Kitman was the media critic at Newsday. His column, “The Marvin Kitman Show,” began on Dec. 7, 1969, a day that still lives in infamy, according to network executives. On April 1, 2005, he stepped down from his position of power. As he explained, “Newsday gave me a tryout, and after 35 years we decided it wasn’t working out.” He is the author of nine books.